First Nadal went, then Sharapova, now Federer. The people running the show must be very grateful that their tickets for next week are already sold. The two gentlemen, Rafa in particular, are the biggest draw cards. With them out, it seems inevitable that Murray and Djokovic will play in the final, unless more surprises are in store. With Maria out, Williams will have very little serious competition for the ladies’ title.
The playing surface came in for a lot of criticism, and rightly so. Yesterday, in the Sharapova match, her opponent had me thinking I was watching ballet when she did a complete split after slipping on grass cuttings. I am not sure if this was also the cause of the injuries that Nadal and Tsonga sustained, but seven withdrawals on day three of the tournament is unheard of.
Rugby to the Rescue
The incoming tour may have been good preparation for the Boks, and helped the coach do some sifting, but it was hardly a test of our real strength. Looking at the team selections, few of the Springboks received a reprieve this weekend, bar those who are injured.
The Cheetahs should not underestimate a weakened Stormers side – playing at Newlands is always a tough ask, with the fervent crowd supporting the home side. There are also many Cheetah supporters in the Cape, which may even things up. Sad to think that Newlands may soon no longer be the venue of first choice when it comes to rugby.
Despite losing a number of key players to injury, the Bulls have too much at stake to lose against the Kings, who will miss Watson. I suspect the crowd will miss Watson even more, given the interchanges in the past.
It will take more than a crystal ball to predict what the Sharks will do tomorrow. My sources reveal that there is a lot of unhappiness about the way Plumtree was shown the door, and I suspect many of the players feel the same. The Blues have far more to gain from a win than the Sharks, but I hope that pride will pull the Banana boys through.
The Sevens side could do well but, like T20 cricket, there is many a slip between the lip and the cup, in a manner of speaking.
One match I am really looking forward to is the one in Australia. I have little doubt that the Aussies will throw everything, including their bodies, at the Lions to secure a chance to win the series 2-1. If not, they could end up with egg on their faces, having reminded the Lions about how they turned around the same deficit the last time the two sides met. Sam Warburton pulls no punches about their approach.
“The talk around the players has been making sure we finish it this weekend,” Warburton said. There has been no complacency thinking that we’ve got a week off because there is another opportunity next week. Momentum would completely swing if Australia won. They’d be going into another home game to finish after winning a game. So we definitely want to finish it off this weekend and the players are motivated to do that.”
The injury to Paul O’Connell will have an impact on their forward play, which they target as a crucial part of their winning tactic.
If the game is anything as entertaining as last week, we have a great feast to look forward to.
Luck of the Irish
A golfer playing in Ireland hooked his drive into the woods. Looking for his ball, he found a little Leprechaun flat on his back, a big bump on his head and the golfer’s ball beside him. Horrified, the golfer got his water bottle from the cart and poured it over the little guy, reviving him. “Arrgh! What happened?” the Leprechaun asked. “I’m afraid I hit you with my golf ball,” the golfer says. “Oh, I see. Well, ye got me fair and square. Ye get three wishes, so whaddya want?” “Thank God, you’re all right!” the golfer answers in relief. “I don’t want anything, I’m just glad you’re OK, and I apologise.” And the golfer walks off. “What a nice guy,” the Leprechaun says to himself. “I have to do something for him. I’ll give him the three things I would want… a great golf game, all the money he ever needs, and a fantastic love life.” A year goes by and the golfer is back. On the same hole, he again hits a bad drive into the woods and the Leprechaun is there waiting for him. “Twas me that made ye hit the ball here, “the little guy says. “I just want to ask ye, how’s yer golf game?” “My game is fantastic!” the golfer answers. “I’m an internationally famous golfer now.” He adds, “By the way, it’s good to see you’re all right.”
“Oh, I’m fine now, thank ye. I did that fer yer golf game, you know. And tell me, how’s yer money situation?” “Why, it’s just wonderful!” the golfer states. “When I need cash, I just reach in my pocket and pull out $100 bills I didn’t even know were there!” “I did that fer ye also. And tell me, how’s yer love life?” The golfer blushes, turns his head away in embarrassment, and says shyly, “It’s OK.” “C’mon, c’mon now,” urged the Leprechaun, “I’m wanting to know if I did a good job. How many times a week?” Blushing even more, the golfer looks around then whispers, “Once, sometimes twice a week.” “What?” responds the Leprechaun in shock. “That’s all? Only once or twice a week?” “Well,” says the golfer, “I figure that’s not bad for a Catholic priest in a small parish.”